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Mosby's Partisan Rangers and the Lincoln Assassination


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Mosby's Partisan Rangers

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As I did research for the Story Pages regarding the conspirators in the Lincoln Assassination, I noticed that many of the people involved in the assassination and the weeks that followed claimed connections with Mosby's Rangers (a Confederate regiment from Virginia). Several books have been written concerning the theory that J. Wilkes Booth and the other conspirators, all of whom were Southern sympathizers, were actually in league with the Confederate government. At the time of the trial, Jefferson Davis and many in his cabinet were mentioned as participants. And it is thought that the Confederate Secret Service originated in Mosby's regiment. The question that came to my mind is where the financial backing came from. Trial accounts testify that the conspirators seemed to flash around a great deal of money - considering it was war-time and, other than Booth, most did not have well-paying jobs.

As I looked more into the claims of belonging to Mosby's Rangers, using the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, I found that only two of the players had actually belonged; one was Absalom R. Bainbridge, who had initially been with Hounsell's Battalion. He was with Capt. Willie S. Jett and Lt. J. Ruggles when they assisted Booth and Herold across the river and found them accomodations in Virginia after the assassination. Willie S. Jett had enlisted early in June 1864 in Johnson's Regiment (Co. C, 9th Virginia Cavalry), and had been severely wounded 29 June 1864. It was Jett who revealed to the detectives that Booth and Herold were staying at the residence of Richard H. Garrett. During the trial, he stated that, when the war ended, he attempted to find Mosby's Rangers. With Jett and Bainbridge was Lt. J. Ruggles, who had belonged to Co. A, 20th Virginia Cavalry.

The second person who had belonged to Mosby's Rangers was Lewis Thornton Powell, who attempted to assassinate Secretary William H. Seward at the same time Booth shot Lincoln. He is likely the "S". T. Powell who appears in the Compiled Service Records, the transcriber mistaking the "L" for "S". The only notation on his records is that he was given a receipt for clothing the 4th quarter of 1864. Powell had escaped from Baltimore, MD, where he was a prisoner of war, in September 1863 and made his way south to Virginia.

John Singleton Mosby was a charismatic leader of young, adventurous men. His regiments were known for their daring, lightning-quick strikes and immediate disappearances. Much has been written about his life and I won't repeat it here. But even as late as 26 Nov 1908, he was mentioned as attending the funeral of one of his men (top left corner of image of the Gazette Virginian). Be sure to look at all the images!

  • 1864-65

Contributor: dbreckenridge
Created: April 19, 2007 · Modified: October 28, 2009

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